Exploring Motherhood and Purpose

Dillon at the park about to go down the big slide. He loves it, even though he looks kind of alarmed. I promise.

To be honest with you, I wanted to write about exercise, about addictions, and why fitness models make it hard to live in the midst of those two things. But Monday, when I sat down to write, I couldn’t get anything out. All I kept thinking about was this conference I went to this past weekend, the hardships of the week before, and what I had been processing in regards to myself and this job of mothering I find myself doing daily.

Then, this morning, as I sat down to study the Bible, I read a verse that caused my head to spin (in a good way). And I decided to write about it – to write about motherhood and an aspect of it I have been struggling with recently. 

Now, before I share the head-spinning verse with you, I have to do some unpacking of the context so that the verse makes even the slightest amount of sense. (Please know that this “unpacking” does not do the passage justice, since Romans 9 is perhaps one of the most difficult passages of the entire Bible to understand and is full of all sorts of tension that must be balanced out using a whole group of other verses so that wrong conclusions aren’t drawn. All of that to say…go read it yourself and pick it apart and don’t rely upon my short summary below to adequately explain the whole thing. ALSO, if you find it offensive, email me or reach out in some other way, I’d love to discuss it with you.)

Okay? Okay.

In Romans 9, Paul (who once killed followers of Jesus Christ because of their faith) is explaining that there are some people on this earth that will become Christians and there are some that won’t – and that God is the creator of both of them. Not only this, but he foreknew ahead of time which ones would be and wouldn’t be Christians, and that he’s actually really purposeful in that. And, He’s still good and just in the whole thing, even though it’s all hard for us, as humans with limited knowledge, to understand – and in our lack of ability to fully understand we might look at God and think He is unjust, but He’s not because He is God and without Him we wouldn’t even be living or breathing so really He has the right to do whatever He pleases. (Again, please go read it, and wrestle with it…it’s a hard one…a really hard one on a lot of different levels.)

Then, in verse 21, Paul is continuing in this line of thought when he writes this:

“Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?”


Outside of trying to prove the point I mentioned above (that God has the right to do whatever He wants since He designed and created life itself), this verse says something quite amazing. It tells us that God created Christians for “special purposes” – for something outside of simply living in accordance with our own desires – outside of normalcy. He created us for something beyond the ordinary.

So why is this a big deal to me right now?

Because sometimes motherhood can feel ordinary. It only takes a couple of weeks of changing diapers and a few days of cutting up strawberries to realize that every day as a mom looks somewhat similar and, when your kid can’t even talk, you begin to wonder if you even have any purpose outside of hygiene, protection and food.

And, for me, even those purposes feel too small at times. (Even though we can all agree that hygiene, protection and food are all big deals, right?)

I mean, over the past few months I have really struggled with how to make this stay-at-home mom thing work. I have found my mind and heart to be so excited about different community organizations, the YMCA volleyball team I play on, the idea of what my counseling career might look like one day, and what I hope one of the ministries at our church turns into. I have found myself lusting after more time to work on these things, more time to write, more time to paint, and I have found myself less amused by the time I spend with my son at the park.

If I’m being really real with you, I would tell you that I’ve been missing the point, really.

Instead of realizing that my son is a HUGE part of the purpose I have been given, I have been thinking that my son gets in the way of the purposes I have been called to pursue.

I hesitate in writing this (and inside I HATE that I have been feeling this way) because the last thing I want to do is write something on the internet that will one day upset my son, but I write it because I know I’m not alone AND I know that the BIGGEST blessings in this life also come with challenges and that the challenges are rarely because of the blessing itself, but because of the heart and ugly places inside of the person/people receiving the blessing(s). (*See note below for more.)

And this is me. This is where I am. I haven’t been seeing things clearly. I’ve been buying a lie.

There is no doubt about it that the Lord has created me to engage in a lot of different activities outside of the home – I see it in my DNA, I see it when I read the Bible and am affirmed in different aspects of ministry, and I see it in the way the Lord has created my mind and what it is drawn to – and there is nothing wrong with that. I think all moms have differences in specific calling and giftedness. BUT right now, I am in a season of being a full-time stay-at-home mom, and that calling has tremendous purpose, even if I have a hard time seeing it sometimes. Even if I have a hard time feeling that way. 

Why? How?

Because regardless of where I am in this life, God is the potter and I am the clay (Isaiah 64:8), and that is good news because regardless of where I am, I have been created for “special purposes”. Because I am a Christian (by God’s unmerited favor alone – not because I am good enough, by any means), I have been created to bring glory to God – to point people to him, which is a really big deal (Isaiah 43:7; Matthew 5:16). 

So, if you find yourself in a similar place – at home with your little ones wondering if you’re making any real difference in their lives, if you’re at work doing a job you’re not crazy about or feel ungifted in, if you’re doing both, or if you’re somewhere else completely different but are still struggling with feeling purposeless – know you’re not alone.

And know that if you are a Christian, you do have a purpose EVEN if you don’t feel like you have one right now. You were made for “honorable use” (Romans 9:21, ESV). You were made for “special purposes” (Romans (9:21, NIV).

And that’s both incredibly simplistic and hard to comprehend all at the same time.

I didn’t make it up. It’s true, and it’s amazing. So, accept it and exhale. I know for sure I’ll be trying to do so.



*Please, please, please know I love my son beyond words can express. I love being his mom, and I feel incredibly blessed that I get the opportunity to call him my son – to even have a son, in fact. I’m not seeking to minimize that AT ALL and IN NO WAY is this post meant to communicate anything in the opposite direction. My intention is simply to be honest for the sake of encouraging those who might find themselves in a similar season. Sometimes it just feels nice to know you’re not alone, and sometimes, I feel the weird calling to expose my own sick heart and yucky-ness for the sake of promoting the universal fact of human brokenness, struggle and sin (It’s embarrassing sometimes, but it is what it is, I guess.) AND God’s grace in working through it all.




The Inevitable Thorn of Waiting

FullSizeRenderThis whole year the Mister and I have been waiting – or it feels that way, at least.

In December of last year, we found out that the Mister needed to have another leg surgery. We weren’t sure whether or not the surgery would work, but we were hopeful. We waited and we waited, and then June happened, the surgery was done, and we are now waiting to see if the surgery actually worked. In August, I had my blood taken and it came back positive for Tuberculosis. In the midst of thinking through the worst case scenario, we waited. We waited on chest X-rays, more test results, and ultimately, for the “all clear” note we got at the end of September. (It was a false alarm.) In October, we found black mold in our apartment, and if you know the story at all, you know we had to wait a month-and-a-half for the whole thing to be resolved. Toward the end of October, we began exploring new job opportunities for the Mister, and we’re still waiting to see what will eventually come from his search. In January, the price of oil continued to plummet, and, like many others in the industry, we are waiting for the storm to pass so that life can get back to normal.

And these are just the things I can tell you about.

If you’ve lived life at all, you know that waiting is just a part of if. It’s the inevitable thorn that pierces our flesh at random times throughout our journeys here on earth. And I have yet to meet someone who totally enjoys it.

A couple of days ago, I read a story about waiting in 1 Samuel – and it stirred my soul.

In this story, the Israelites are at war with their neighboring enemies, and Saul (king of the Israelites) is commanded to go to Gilgal to wait for Samuel (the prophet of God) to come and offer sacrifices and give instruction to Saul on what he and his troops should do (10:8). A couple of battles later, we see Saul leading trembling Israelite solders through Gilgal and he begins to wait for Samuel’s arrival and instruction. At the same time, the Philistines (one of Israel’s enemies) had positioned themselves in a near by town with thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen/troops (13:5) causing the Israelites to scramble for their lives.

After waiting seven days, Saul begins to freak out. He observes his troops, which are becoming more and more frightened, surveys the might of the Philistine army, and ultimately decides to take matters into his own hands. He “forces” himself and offers the sacrifices that Samuel was supposed to offer (13:12) thinking that, by doing so, he would speed up God’s process.

Basically, Saul got tired of waiting.

He saw what was going on around him and panicked. And unfortunately, his need to have control, cost him greatly. Eventually, the kingdom was taken from Saul’s hands and given to someone else.

I like this story because I see myself in it.

I hate feeling uncomfortable. I hate hard emotion, and I hate feeling stressed. And in moments when I am feeling these things, I seek to alleviate all of the tension in whatever way I possibly can. I force myself, and I seek to control my circumstances. The problem is, by doing this, I miss out on what the Lord has for me in the moments of tension. I miss the learning, I miss the growth, and I potentially miss the opportunity to know Him more. Sometimes, just like Saul, I even make things worse.

When I choose not to wait, I take whatever God had intended for me and stick it in a corner so that I can move on to whatever I think is best. The problem is, I don’t know what’s best. I’m not God, and I’m not all-knowing.

There is an awesome poem/story in a Bible study that I’m doing right now called, The Thorn. It goes like this:

“I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne and begged Him for one priceless gift that I could call my own. I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart, I cried, ‘But Lord, this is a thorn! And it has pierced my heart.’ He said, ‘My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.’ I took it home, and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore, as long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more. I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace. He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil that hides His face.” – Martha Snell Nichols as cited by Cynthia Heald

As I reflect on my life, I find so much truth here.

That time when I ended the relationship because I knew I was supposed to even though I didn’t want to and had to wait years to actually be able to move on. That time when I desperately wanted to move jobs, but I knew the timing was bad for multiple people, and I had to stick it out. The time when I needed to take a break from dating for the sake of my own heart, even though I didn’t really want to. In all of these moments, I have learned something. In all of these times I grew tremendously. And in all of these times I saw God’s faithfulness – I saw how His plan is so much better than my own.

I’ve also seen the opposite.

I’ve seen the times when I’ve entered into a relationship because I was sick of being single. I’ve seen the times when I’ve wanted an expensive article of clothing and purchased it even though I couldn’t afford it. I’ve seen the times when I opened my mouth to make sure that people heard me because I thought that I needed to control my reputation. And all of these things ended badly. People got hurt, problems were caused, and I regretted it later.

I’m not saying that everything is a simple equation.  I do think God’s grace does meet us in the midst of our need to be in control and the bad decisions that come from it. At the same time, I do believe that we can miss out on things because we choose to rush to the better feeling – to the thing that will make us feel more content, happier, or more loved in the moment. I do think there is more to the waiting than just the pain and hardship it causes. God wants to give good gifts to His children, and sometimes what is gained through waiting is in fact just that – a good and perfect gift. It’s a gift that is actually for our good and not just a temporary bandage that makes life on earth more comfortable. It’s a gift that grows us, matures us, and allows us to know Him more.

We all have random thorns, for waiting is a given in this life. Some of us are waiting to finally be able to purchase a house in a responsible way, some of us are waiting to be able to conceive or adopt, some of us are waiting to get married, and some of us are waiting for our children to make better decisions. I’m waiting on the things mentioned in the first paragraph of this post. All of these things are wonderful, and are all worth waiting for. The question is: How are we waiting? Are we seeking to control things so that we feel better right now or are we relying upon the Lord to give us what we need in the moment so that we can persevere to the end of whatever it is He’s doing?

This journey can be hard. There’s no doubt about that. At times I feel totally out of control and a little bit clueless, but I’m praying that I am able to resist the urge to take short cuts. I’m praying that I remember that waiting is used by the Lord in powerful ways, and that that Lord provides me with true life.

“The greatest danger is that we would become impatient and miss the blessing.”         – Charles Spurgeon

“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” – Isaiah 30:18

**Thanks to Cynthia Heald for the awesome resources and insights she provides in thinking through interesting topics like this one. (Her study “Becoming a Woman of Strength” really helped me here.)

The Beauty of Psalm 5

Psalm 5 is absolutely beautiful.

The Psalm provides a stunning picture of David’s vulnerability and need for God. The Psalm is a prayer – and throughout it, David reminds himself of truth and praises God for his steadfast love (v.7), His ability to provide refuge (11), and for the blessing God brings to those who trust in Him (v. 12).

My favorite part of the Psalm, however, comes in verse 8. Here, David cries out to the Lord for help:

“Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me” (ESV).

This prayer resonates with my heart.

My enemies may not be physical people, but I have some enemies.

Comfort tempts me to stick to my own schedule, my own plan, instead of submitting to God. My idol of acceptance lures me to alter who I am or what I think so that others will accept me more. Anger tries to convince me that relief is found in release, instead of remembrance of truth and words of love. Lies and negative self-talk seek to make me feel bad about myself – to disorient and distract me from the truth of who I really am in Christ. Security tries to convince me that money matters more than surrender, and discontentment aims to fill my mind with pessimism. Anxiety plays with me so that I seek refuge in myself, and my own clinched fists, instead of trusting God. Fear tempts me to stop moving so that I am stuck in places that are old, stale and dry. Loss begs me to despair.

You see, my enemies may not be people, but I have enemies. And sometimes they are fierce.

I’m thankful for David – for his truth, his boldness, and his confidence in God. You see, I think David got it.

“But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house.” – Psalm 5:7 (ESV)

David didn’t do anything to deserve God’s love. It wasn’t based on the good he had done, the skills he had been gifted with, or the successes he would have in the future. In fact, David did a lot of really bad things. He committed adultery, he murdered an innocent man, he lied, and, at times, he was gripped by passivity to the point of being an absent father and king.

Yet, David was covered by the grace of God. He rejoiced in the love of God and that love gave him the security he needed to cry out – to pray for rescue.

How easily I forget.

As Christians, we are not alone in fighting our enemies. We have a God who loves us, and because of that, we can boldly approach Him.

“Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.” – Psalm 5:8 (ESV)

Cry out, remember, and trust. He can help. Exhale.

Boston (or Cambridge) Bound and the Fear of Changed Plans

Tomorrow afternoon, the mister and I will embark on our journey to our new home in Massachusetts.

This round (as many of you know we moved from Boston to Midland, TX just about a year ago), we will both be doing the grad school thing. He’ll be at a school in Cambridge getting is MBA, and I’ll be attending a school in South Hamilton working on my Master’s in Counseling. I’m expecting it will be quite the experience for us both!

Although I am super excited to see old friends, have our own place, and experience a new and different phase of life, the whole process has caused me a great deal of anxiety and fear.

You see, none of this is what I had planned.

Some of you might remember the details surrounding our move to Midland and how random and out of the box it was. You may also remember that I spent a lot of time reflecting upon the fact that sometimes our plans and the Lord’s don’t quite align.

Well… I’m in the same ballpark, but this time, the game seems more difficult. It’s on a much larger scale.

Don’t worry. I’ll explain…

In high school, I dreamed of being a young mom. I wanted to get married and do all of that jazz first, but I wanted to be a young mom. You know, like Lorelai from Gilmore Girls. It was going to be awesome. I would have a daughter like Rory, and since I was so young, she would find me relatable and her friends would like me. Our house would be the place they would hang out, and if any of them needed advice, I would be there. Pure bliss, eh?

When I moved to Nashville my freshman year of college, I decided that I didn’t want to be 11 hours away from my family. I loved my friends there, and loved the city itself, but it was just too far. For that reason, and a couple of others, I made my way to Texas Tech that next year. The people in Lubbock were great, but I soon (like within a week) decided that I never wanted to live in West Texas. It was too dry, too windy, and way too conservative.

As soon as I graduated, I headed back to Dallas and settled into life there. My family was close, I was able to interact weekly with my sister and her four kids, I loved my church, and the community was rich. Two of my best friends from college even moved close by. I had no plans of leaving. I was quite content.

When Caleb and I moved to Boston in January of 2013, I knew it was going to be a four-year stint. Caleb would finish up his job at Bain Capital, wrap up grad school, and then we would be Dallas bound. Maybe we would even have kids up there, and I would still have a shot at being a young mom (well, kind of). I would raise my kids next to my sister and our kids would play together. It would be a blast! I mean, what kids wouldn’t love hanging out with us all day? Duh! (Note the sarcasm there.)

I had it all planned out.

Proverbs 19:21 reads, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

Today, I sit here as a 28-year-old grad student with a husband in the Oil and Gas Industry. In other words, I’m no longer “young mom” material, life is going to be too crazy to have kids in the next two years, and it looks like Dallas is out of the question…at least for a little while.

My plan has officially been derailed.

“Get over it,” you may say. “There are people in the world that don’t even have clean water to drink, and people are being martyred for their faith in Israel. Haven’t you heard?”

I have, and I hate that I’m struggling with something so small in comparison to those things, but I am. I’m struggling to surrender my plan, to hand it over, and to trust God. I mean, come on! My plans for Dallas weren’t bad. In fact, I had every intention of glorifying the Lord with every step. What’s wrong with that?!

Yesterday morning, I was reading in Mark 4. The scene takes place when Jesus is on a boat with his disciples in the middle of the night:

“And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling [with water]. But he (Jesus) was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘ Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’”

– Mark 4:37-41

I exhaled.

Trusting God seems like it should be easy. I mean, after all, He’s good, knows and controls everything, and loves me beyond my wildest imagination, but sometimes, I just forget to do it. I start focusing on the details of a situation – my fears, anxiety and all of the things I wish were different – and I forget that He sees all of it – and He uses everything to grow me and make me more and more into the person he created me to be (Romans 8:28-30). He’s in control and if he wants me somewhere different, he can move me. He knows what he’s doing. If it means having “kid one” at the age of 30, living in Midland, Africa, or Cambridge, or doing something crazy like selling everything we own, he’s got us. In him I have hope. He can be trusted.

The truth is, having a kid (or adopting) at 30 is probably the best for us. It’s not what I had planned, but I think it makes the most sense. We will have more time and more resources to run a stable home.

Also, Midland isn’t so bad. Some of our coolest friends live here in Midland. They are so cool it pains me to leave them for two years. (I guess sometimes you just want the best of both worlds.) We have family here, and the mister has a great job to come back to.

It’s all going to be okay.

I don’t know where you are, or what you’re struggling with. It may be something big, or small, but believe me; you’re not weak for struggling. We all have things we have to work through and all that counts is that you’re working and not giving up. Trust God. He’s got you. He is your help in time of need. He hears you, sees you, and loves you. Talk to him.

Sometimes things don’t work out how you want them to, and you just have to trust God and roll with it. I’m working on it!

A Few Thoughts on 2013 and the Year Ahead

It’s hard to believe that it is officially 2014. Few things fly as quickly as time.

This past year was quite a whirlwind for me.

The year started while we were on our honeymoon in Puerto Rico, and it has taken us from a tiny brownstone in Boston to a garage apartment, of sorts, in Midland, TX. I got a new job, quit the new job, and started school, while my husband left the company he was working for to help his father run the family business. We’ve made 3 visits to the ER, almost died kayaking at night through a tree-covered canal (or, at least I thought we were going to die), and have experienced a bombing, a blizzard, and a region-wide, government-ordered lockdown.

The mister and me outside after the blizzard in Boston
First Red Sox game after the Boston Marathon Bombing (and the game where I lost my phone)

It’s been one heck of a year.

I lost my cell phone 3 times (once on the T, once at Fenway, and once at the pool). I learned how to assemble furniture, take the public transportation system in Boston, and how to hook up cable TV and Internet. I learned what a “Zip Car” is and that I should eat before getting into a taxi so that I don’t get sick. Together, the mister and I bought a car and gave away a couch. We went to Jamaica and Mexico, and celebrated a wedding in New York City. My Dallas roommate got engaged, and one of my best friends of over 20 years got married. We watched over 28 episodes of both “How I Met Your Mother” and “Nashville,” and we learned how to make a quiche. We laughed really hard, and I cried a few times. (I tend to express emotion a little more than my husband.)

The mister and me in front of the first car we purchased together
The mister and me in Central Park

Again, it’s been one heck of a year – and it’s been a humbling one for me. I think humility comes with growth, most of the time.

Yesterday morning, as I reflected on 2013, I came across a verse that encouraged me deeply.

“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” – Ephesians 5:15-21

This verse seems to sum up the struggles I’ve had over this past year. At the same time, it gives me guidance on how to live my life to the fullest in the year to come.

1. “So be careful how you live…Make the most of every opportunity…Don’t act thoughtlessly…”

Over the past year, there have been many times when I’ve only thought about myself, and my own needs, instead of the needs of others.  At moments, I became so narrowly focused that I forgot how to love others well. This verse reminds me of a greater way of living. I’m capable of throwing my life away by living it for myself. I must remember to think. I’ve been given a purpose – and I’m praying I live by it.

2. “Don’t be drunk with wine…Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

This verse isn’t saying that alcohol is wrong, but it is saying that abusing the things the Lord has given us is. For me, this verse not only serves as a warning against a life of drunkenness, but also a warning against living a life that continually chooses the ways of this world over the ways of the Lord. In other words, continually choosing destructive paths over the way of life. Over this past year, I have made a few of those choices. I have chosen to give way to my anger instead of expressing myself in truth and love. I have lusted after things I want and have chosen pleasure over lasting peace. I’m reminded that life isn’t found in fleeting things. “There is [truly] a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 16:25). The Lord created me, and He knows the path that leads to life. I am reminded to stop choosing things he wouldn’t want for me to choose and instead, trust Him with my life and all of the decisions it contains.

3. “Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God…”

All of the changes experienced over this past year have left me feeling discouraged, at times. Leaving old friends, making new ones, and then leaving them has taken its toll, and I’ve struggled with loneliness and isolation.  This verse reminds me that instead of walking around with my head hung down, I ought to worship God and thank him for the wonderful things (both material and not) in my life. My heart should be focused on worship – not on myself. If my head is hung low, I cannot see all that God is doing around me. I’m encouraged to live a life of worship and to be thankful.

4. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Obviously, this one plays out the most in my marriage. (See note on what submission is, and what it isn’t, below.) This verse reminds me that instead of insisting on my own way of doing things (which I’m guilty of), I ought to allow my husband to lead out in our marriage. I ought to listen to him and respect him, instead of only hearing what I want to hear. Allowing my husband to lead us through this life is a way of honoring and worshiping God. What a sweet reminder!

While I spent a lot of last year wishing I were in Dallas, hoping that we could find a church like Watermark (the church I attended in Dallas), or wishing my Dallas friends lived in Midland or Boston, I failed to remember that life is short.

Psalm 90:12 reads, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

None of us know how long we will walk this earth. We don’t know when our time will be up. The truth is, it could be tomorrow – or even today. My prayer for 2014 is that the Lord teaches me to number my days, and that I remember the truths I was reminded of in Ephesians 5:15-21.

He has given me a purpose. He knows the way to life. Worship. Be thankful. Remember that life is short. Love well and live free.

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all of our days.” – Psalm 90:14

Happy New Year! May you live life well in 2014.

Midland, TX sunset

*** I know the word “submission” has a really bad reputation, so I want to reassure you that it is not some weird, twisted, or dehumanizing thing. Submission is not a silent obedience to whatever your husband wants you to do. In the Bible, the husband is given the task of loving his wife like Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25), which means that a husband is to love his wife by caring for her needs, walking in humility, encouraging her, and laying down his own life to the point of death. (Christ loved us so much that he died a gruesome and horrible death on the cross.) This makes submission not a thing of suppression or abuse but a thing of safety and trust. The goal is that the husband loves the wife so well that she is able to trust him and his leadership of the family…more on this in another post soon.)

Kacey Musgraves, Magazine Covers, and the Deception of Happiness


Anyone who knows me could tell you I am a genuine Country Music junkie.

Unfortunately, possibly because of my natural bent, I am attracted to the more rebellious songs within the genre. (For example: Johnny Paycheck’s “Take this Job and Shove It,” Tim McGraw’s “Indian Outlaw,” Garth Brooks’ unedited version of “The Thunder Rolls,” and Miranda Lambert’s “Heart Like Mine.”)

Recently, however, a song has emerged from a very talented – and pretty hip – young artist named Kacey Musgraves that has caused my head to spin.

The name of the song is “Follow Your Arrow,” and although it’s a catchy tune, the lyrics are quite controversial. Here’s a snapshot of the chorus:

“When the straight and narrow
Gets a little too straight
Roll up a joint, or don’t
Just follow your arrow
Wherever it points, yeah
Follow your arrow
Wherever it points.”

The song plays off of all of the hypocrisies we experience in life (which is pretty brilliant), but the application of the song is…um…well…I’ll get to that in a bit.

A couple of weeks ago, the Mister and I were in line at Wal-Mart, and, in efforts to waste time, I started checking out the front pages of the magazines stuffed in the display rack.

“Us Weekly” highlighted a Kardashian divorce and another Kardashian’s engagement. “People” advertised its interview with a musician about her recent separation, and the magazine next to it displayed Barbara Streisand and her, speculated, future ex-husband.

My heart broke – and I immediately started thinking about my own life.

You see, I haven’t always had a relationship with the Lord. There was a time when I did everything and anything that I wanted to (or tried to), and it left me with a since of emptiness deep down inside. It was dark, lonely, and depressing. Sure! I had friends – and I enjoyed some of the things I dabbled in, but my heart felt sick.

All I wanted was to be happy, but nothing seemed to satisfy.

When I TRULY trusted in the Lord (who He was, what He did, and what that meant for me) toward the end of high school, my life slowly started to change, and, by God’s grace, I began to find my definition in Him and how He created me to live. Today, I’m really different than I once was.

In this process, I found that happiness existed, and it was wonderful when it did, but because of its fleeting nature, it was not worth worshiping. Even in the midst of difficult circumstances, the Lord promised peace and assurance that He knew what was going on and that He would provide for all of my needs. I didn’t have to strive to obtain all that I “wanted” in this life because in Christ I found a hope that went beyond circumstances.

I never had this kind of comfort before I got to really know God.

So, what’s my point?

As I stared at the people on the front of those magazines, I realized that I’m not much different than them. Even though I know the Lord, it’s easy for me to give into what this culture feeds me.

You see, we are told to seek what we want, and do what we want, as long as it makes us happy. Happiness is the goal – and anything you give up in pursuit of it is well worth it. Unfortunately, when I look at my own life, actions and thoughts, I see traces of where I’ve already sold myself out to the lie:

 “I know I really shouldn’t say this, but I’m going to because it’s going to make me feel better.” OR “If only I could land that job, then I would happy.”

Happiness seems like a cool concept. We seek it out in almost everything we do. We think if we do what we want, when we want to do it, life will be just the way we want it to be.

However, there are two flaws in this theory:

First, can we all get what we want when we want different things? (Meaning, we can’t all be happy at the same time.)

Often times, our belief in “happiness” takes away from the “happiness” of others. We hold the flag, yelling “HAPPINESS FOR ALL,” but it’s simply impossible.

People show off their middle finger to people in traffic because it makes them feel better about their current situation, even though it makes the recipient of the finger unhappy. Neighbors keep their yelping dogs outside because they want to be able to do what they want with the animals they bought, adopted, or brought in, but it causes others to lose sleep and, therefore, be unhappy.

I want to listen to my music louder than the person next to me at every red light – but it makes the person next to me mad.

Secondly, happiness isn’t permanent.

My cute clothes, which currently make me happy, are, more than likely, not going to fit in a few years. That race you’re training for, more than likely, won’t be a possibility when you’re 90. The car you drive, the house you’re building, the kids you live for, and the new diet you’re totally “crushing” are all awesome – they just won’t bring you happiness forever. They will all, at some point, disappoint you.

“As a thief is disgraced when he is caught, so the house of Israel (a group of people who were set apart to worship the Lord) is disgraced – they, their kings and their officials, their priests and their prophets. They say to wood, ‘You are my father,’ and to stone, ‘You gave me birth.’ They have turned their backs to me and not their face; yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come save us!’ Where are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble!” – Jeremiah 2:26-28

You see, happiness can’t save us.

In fact, happiness flies out the window whenever the thing we want to be saved from happens. With the smallest bump in the road, it’s gone. Happiness is a roller coaster – some days it’s there and other days it’s not. Although we want to be happy all of the time, we simply cannot be.

We want happiness to be our emotional state all of the time. We want happiness to be our security – the thing we run to in efforts to find life. We want it to last forever.

We want to be what it was never intended to be – we want it to be God.

What does all of this mean? If happiness can’t be had by everyone at the same time, then what? If happiness isn’t constant and can easily crash to the ground, then what’s the point?

Perhaps, we weren’t made for happiness. Maybe, what we were created for is MUCH bigger.

Only God is certain. He created life, so we can trust Him when we need to know how to live it. Yes! He allows us to enjoy life, and experience feelings of happiness, but He also lets us know that there will be hard times:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, time to plant and a time to uproot…a time to mourn and a time to dance.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1,2 &4

He also says that He provides peace and joy – both of which can exist, even when life gets rough.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:4-7“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” – James 1:2 and 3

Sure. I can try to buy what I want to buy so that I feel happy. I can try to climb the corporate ladder to prove myself to others – and feel happy about it. The truth is, however, these things won’t last forever.

The promise that in Christ, I’m enough, and by his blood I’m saved is the truth. It’s worth banking on because it will never fail me.

There will be one day when He will wipe away every tear from our eyes – but that day doesn’t happen until heaven. And in heaven, the word “happiness” won’t even come close to describing what we will feel. It will be “happiness” off of the charts.

Today though, happiness is only temporary…and not universal.

The people on the front of the magazines at Wal-Mart got married because they wanted to be “happy,” but then they filed for divorce. Why? Because they wanted to be “happy” – even if the other person in the party is left in despair. (Please see the note at the bottom of this post.*)

Happiness is not permanent – so why do we worship it?

We have a purpose in this life, and it’s much bigger than what the world tells us.

Kacey, you say that my happiness, regardless of what it causes others, is what matters most, but I’m not buying it. Feel free to “follow your arrow wherever it points,” but I’m going a different direction.

“The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”  – 1 John 2:17

(P.S. This post is IN NO WAY meant to bring down Kacey Musgraves. In fact, I think she is one of the most talented writers out there right now. I’m simply noting that we seem to have different approaches in the way we think through life.)

* Obviously, I don’t know why everyone gets divorced. At the same time, I know that I am fully capable of making decisions that would lead me down the same path. I also know that some people get divorced because their own life is in danger due to abuse. If you are being abused, please seek help. (http://www.thehotline.org/)

Photo taken from huffingtonpost.com

Misery and MEGA Change


I’m not going to lie. I haven’t been in the writing mood much over the past few months (as you can see from my lack of posts). The reason? I’m not sure. I mean, it’s not like there hasn’t been a handful of important and/or memorable events to write about. From Christmas, concerts, a great trip to Boston with Caleb, playing roadie for an all-women country music showcase, the loss of someone close to my family, the wedding of one of my close friends, a car wreck, and accepting a new job, you’d think I’d find inspiration somewhere! It just didn’t hit…until this morning.


As I hinted at above, I recently accepted a new job. I start on Monday, and I am super excited for the new opportunity at hand (I’ll be doing outreach marketing for a local hospital). The only thing that weighs in the back of my mind is the exit I have to make from working at a place I love so much – Watermark Community Church. Over the past year-and-a-half, I have experienced so much life change from just being a part of the staff team there. It’s hard to imagine not going there every day of the week.

I remember walking through the doors on day one so uncertain of what my time here would look like. With training in various aspects of college ministry and marketing, I knew that Watermark would be a positive experience, but I had NO idea how that positivity would develop. You see, in the summer of 2010 (when I came on staff), I was still deeply struggling with obsessive thoughts toward exercise, and the desire to restrict my food intake to control the way I felt about myself. Not only that, but during my first six months there, I struggled with the deepest season of insecurity I had faced since high school.

I was miserable, and I wanted out.

Through these things, and a few others, I realized that there were many areas in my heart that the Lord needed to work on, and I was learning for the first time ever that thinking I could fix myself was not only arrogant, but also fruitless. My white-knuckled efforts only landed me in the same spot I had been the week, month or year before. Leaning into Christ was the only way I could go. Exposing the lies I had believed to myself, confessing them to the Lord and to others, and then running to the truth in scripture to combat them was the only thing I could do. I am forever grateful for this lesson. It has reshaped the way I see sanctification and the type of effort I should have in it.

I also realized that when you’re stuck on yourself – trying to fix yourself and focusing on what others think of you instead of the acceptance you have in Christ as a believer – you miss out on the amazing opportunity to love others. The Lord performed heart surgery on me by tackling the areas in my life that he wanted to transform and, because of it, I was freed up to deeply enjoy the people I interacted with from day to day.

At Watermark, I work in something everyone calls the MEGA Cube (the MEGA, for short). The MEGA is giant cube that consists of six smaller cubes housing all of the Community and Connecting Admins – and it’s pretty much THE place to be! Over the past couple of years, the personalities within the cube have changed, but the friendships in it have persevered. From Crystal to Tucker, Dana to Erin, Amanda, Lauren and me, the laughter is abundant, and the discussions are both intentional and entertaining. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t laugh really hard – and there are several memories that play out in my head on a regular basis that I hope to never forget: Volunteer-shoe-fix-it day with Dana, the Balloon War with Amanda, Winagetasung, creating a fake email account and emailing my boss asking random questions….the list goes on. I will truly miss the people this cube holds. I’ll miss Lauren’s gentleness and her ability to tune-in and work through the chaos going on around her. I’ll miss Tucker’s ability to talk about anything for a really long time and her knowledge of random deep-Southern traditions. Erin’s smile and concern for others makes each day a little brighter, and if you don’t know my friend Crystal, you should because she’s smarter than the smartest person you know and she uses the best metaphors while telling stories. Man, I’ll really miss Amanda’s ability to turn any topic into something exciting and the way that Dana sees, understands, and meets people right where they are. I can already tell this transition is going to be harder than I thought…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned here, it’s that people and the relationships we have with them are quite possibly the greatest gift the Lord gives us on earth.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:18 – 20).

Make the most of the friendships you have. Learn how to love well. Watch how Christ is committed to you, and commit to loving others. Step outside of the rules you try to keep and the things you wish you could change about yourself, and focus on the fact that he’s made you to be you – not anyone else. If you know Christ and the payment he paid on the cross for your sins, if your head knowledge of this payment and the grace he gives outside of your own merit or effort transfers to your heart, then please believe Him when he says you’re fully loved and fully accepted. It changes the way you see things.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38&39).

When all you want is Macaroni and Cheese

Over the past 25 years of my life, there’s been one Thanksgiving that has stuck out over the rest.

I was about nine and my parents had decided to host the year’s Thanksgiving festivities. Unlike the years before, both sides of our family, plus our next-door neighbors were all invited. The house had been cleaned from roof to floor, and the sugary smell of sweet potatoes began to linger in the air. The doorbell rang and guests began filing in, filling up our tiny living room. I remember walking through crowds of people, ducking my head down to avoid hitting their elbows. Our house was packed.

Around noon, I took a break from playing with my cousins upstairs to run down to the kitchen to check out the meal’s menu. I looked on each counter and peaked in each pot on the stove only to find that I didn’t like anything being prepared. I immediately began hunting for my mom. When I found her, I ‘kindly’ suggested that she make me macaroni and cheese, but was given a blunt ‘no’ in return. With an outburst of anger, which was a typical response from me at that age, I grabbed a plate, a piece of turkey, and a roll and ran upstairs to my bathroom. I sat in the floor, on my fuzzy green bath mat, crying. I hated ham. I hated yams. And I hated Thanksgiving.

Thank God my perspective, and my taste, has changed.

This past Sunday, I was hanging out with a few of my friends, when someone suggested that we go around the circle and tell everyone the top 3 things we are thankful for. To be honest, the question was a bit difficult, for there are many things I am thankful for. I mean, what would I do without my coffee pot, a warm bed, and the job I have?

After much thought, here’s where I landed (in no particular order):

My Family.

I cannot think of a day that my family has not impacted. My dad is a constant force in my life. In a world that continually begs for you to be something different than you really are, it’s refreshing to see someone who doesn’t listen. He’s himself, and he’s fully okay with that. If someone asked me to list the people in this world I respected the most, he would be on that list. He truly shows me, on a weekly basis, what it means to serve, love and support others.

My mom is my mom – and that’s almost all I can say. She may be one of the most outgoing women I know, and I love that about her. The word “stranger” is not in her vocabulary, for she has never met one, and within a few seconds she can update anyone on what’s going on in the lives of those around her. Throughout my life, she has opened her arms not only to me, but also to all of my friends. The way she loves and encourages others is warm and inspirational. She is quite possibly one of the most kind and compassionate women I know.

My sister, Natalie (I call her Sissy), and The Martin Clan (her husband Ryan and their four children, Jackson, Macy, Cooper and Kate) bring such joy to my life. My life would look dramatically different without their presence in it. My sister has always been a continual means of encouragement in my life. She offers advice and lovingly points me in the right direction when my attitude, thoughts or actions are a little off course. Watching her and Ryan balance their life with love and intention always evokes awe in me. From Jackson, 5, to Macy, 3, and on down to Cooper and Kate, 6 months, I thank the Lord for this cute little family. I’m blessed to get to be a part of their lives.


Friends are one of the things I continually thank God for. I mean, God is God and he can do what he wishes so the fact that he designed us to live life with others, and then provided others to live life with is astonishing to me.

This year, possibly more than ever, I’ve grown to appreciate the gift of friendship. With the establishment of new relationships, to the strengthening of older ones, I’ve gotten to see how the Lord really uses friendship to shape who you are and who you’re becoming. From my roommate, to my Community Group, over to the MEGA Girls, I’ve learned to appreciate the unique design God used when creating each of us. My college friends, and post-college friends, have shown me what it means to faithfully invest in the lives of others. I’m extremely thankful for the love and truth they offer, and feel privileged to get to spend my days with them.

The Holy Spirit.

Every morning when I wake up, I brew a cup (or 4cups) of coffee, sit down with my Bible, a pen, and a journal and get to thinking. I don’t get far before I feel compelled to thank God for the light that allows me to see, the coffee that keeps me awake, the water that I have that many others don’t, the Bible I read, and the aptitude to write. I thank Him for the ability to speak to Him without having to stand behind a curtain, and the ability to have fellowship with Him through His grace. You see, the fact that I have a relationship with him was not of anything I did myself. All I did was respond to what He was doing in my heart. It’s pretty amazing that I can know Him. I’m thankful for His direction. If I were guiding myself, I’d end up in places that I know my heart would not benefit from. He knows where I’m going, and He is my only hope. He’s for certain – the only thing worth banking on – and this Thanksgiving, as every other day, I’m thankful for His guidance and the growth that has come out of it.

If I had to be honest with anyone, I would say that I’m still not a huge fan of turkey and ham, and I STILL think that we’re missing out on a great thing by not having Macaroni and Cheese as a part of our Thanksgiving Day spread, but, at age 25, there’s a lot more to the meal than a cheesy covered shell. There’s the celebration of life and all that comes with it! There’s the gratitude in knowing that we deserve nothing but are given much.

Now, that’s worth celebrating.

A Thing is More Than a Thing

I have come to believe that nothing is just something. Just when you think a book is just a book, you end up learning something profound in its pages. A song becomes more than just a fine melody when you gain clarity through one of its stanzas…I could go on for hours.

Two weeks ago, I went on a trip to New York City.

From the moment we landed I knew the trip was going to be freeing. The weather was perfect. The sun was shining, and my Toms made their way out of my suitcase. I breathed deeply and got ready for the adventure at hand.

Setting off from our hotel, we walked down 5th Avenue, checked out Trump Tower, strolled down Broadway and 7th, and trucked it through Central Park. We took pictures of the Dakota, the last residence and murder spot of John Lennon, and ventured through Strawberry Fields. The history was rich. My respect for the city grew. As we walked around, I remember admiring the fashion and the way people hurried in their business suits from one place to other. I was fascinated by the tall cathedrals and beautifully constructed buildings, and, to be completely honest, was a bit envious of the way in which people seemed to be taking on their dreams.

That night, as I was walking into my room to go to bed, I told my mom, “This place makes me want to succeed at something.” I would soon realize the depth of that statement.

The next morning, I woke up and went down to the deli next to our hotel. I bought a cup of coffee, pulled out my Bible and pen, and started reading. I came across this verse, and it wouldn’t leave me alone:
Jeremiah 7:23&24 reads, “But I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward.”

You see, a big part of my story is a continual struggle with trying to find meaning in things that were never purposed to give me such. On this list are a variety of things: a reputation; a certain amount of money; a job title; a particular body shape; and a busy schedule. On that day, in that little deli, I realized that many of the things that once plagued me were, once again, beginning to offer me a dose of their toxins. The idols had fallen off of their thrones, but they had not been destroyed.
Psalm 81:9&10 reads, “You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not bow down to any alien god. I’m the Lord your God…open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”

In that moment, I realized that my heart was becoming unfaithful. The success that I desired the night before was not the right kind of success. It was success geared at making much of me, and not much of God. I was amazed at how easily an environment had influenced my heart. Would I seek God if I lived in New York City? The question haunted me.

On the plane ride home, later that week, I thought about the question. I spun it around in my head. I looked at the people on the plane, and then thought about it some more. Here’s the answer I came to:
My pursuit of anything that leads me away from God’s design for me is futile. Through my own pain and rebellion,

I’ve learned that one thing is certain – God deals with the sinner whom He loves, and He does what He wills to capture his or her heart again. I could live in NYC and pursue all there is to pursue. I could chase money, success, things, status, etc., but deep down I know that all of those things would lead me to a state of emptiness. I’d end up in a place wanting nothing more than life, joy and peace. I’d end up in a dark place asking God to, once again, turn my life around. It’s a circle.

You see, things that weren’t designed to fill us never can.
Matt Chandler frequently talks about the fact that we are our own number one joy robber. I think it’s legit. No one thing robs me of my joy as much as I do. My decisions, my choices to ignore the convictions the Holy Spirit places on my life, my declarations to go my own way when desiring something of this world, they all rob me.

In Christ is life. Drinking of Him means to drink life at the fullest possible level. When my walk with Him is thrown off, when my fellowship with Him is interrupted, my life lacks peace and my heart becomes ill.

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within” (John 7:37&38).

My little trip to New York was no longer just a trip to New York. It had become an instrument the Lord had used to reveal to me the depth of my brokenness and my desperate need for Him. I was aware, more than ever, of my idols. He used the experience to remind me that He created me, and He knows what satisfies. He satisfies, and He alone is God.


Two Tracks, One Purpose

If you’ve known me long at all, you know that I LOVE country music. It’s just one of those things that won’t leave me alone. As hard as I try to throw my love for the music out of the window, it always flies back in. (If you’re like most people, you’re wondering why I even try to get rid of it in the first place. That, my friend, will be outlined at a later date, for it’s complex situation, and right now, I’m on a different wave length.) My purpose in mentioning this is so that you know when my mom asked me if I wanted to go see Dolly Parton in concert a couple of weeks ago, I jumped ecstatically at the opportunity.The show was incredible. Besides the fact that I spilt red liquid on my newly bought, and rather expensive, Dolly shirt, I couldn’t have asked for a better concert experience. Dolly is something else. Although her show is quite simple, containing well-written songs, many stories, and very few visuals, she puts on a great one. Her personality, stunning voice, ability to speak to the people in the crowd as though they were her friends, and her heart light up the stage in a very unique way that, if I had to be honest, I’d say only should can do. In other words, I left the show quite amazed at the gift God had given her.

That night, as I laid in bed reflecting on the whole experience, I pulled out my journal to document my thoughts. Here’s what I wrote: “I can’t help but sit in amazement at the raw talent the Lord gave Dolly Parton. To be honest, I feel a little jealous. Why couldn’t God have given me that much talent?”

When I woke up the next morning with the concert still fresh on my mind, I processed a bit more. It’s pretty incredible that some people end up being rich and famous, while others end up being ‘average’ citizens, or even people desperate for food. And all of these people end up where they are for the same reason. (See Ephesians 1:11&12 which reads, “In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according the the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our home in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.”)

Sometimes I struggle with believing that those who make it to the top do so because of their own effort – their own drive. That line of thought makes me feel disappointed about where my life is right now. It makes me feel as though I haven’t tried hard enough to become something, like I’ve sat on the sidelines and watched the world achieve at life. It makes me feel as though all I’ve done is sit still. Even though I know I have sought God for direction and have done my best to follow His lead, it still makes me feel as though I’m not ‘successful’ enough. Then, I remember the truth.

First off, I can never know the story behind the scenes just by looking at a face. Sure, having the talent and ability of Dolly seems appealing, and her life that comes from it seems fun, but I don’t know the internal struggles she faces every day. It’s funny and sad at the same time to think about how life can appear great to others, but when the end of the world happens, the fame gained and the money made could all end in worthlessness. (Back to this thought later.)

Secondly, and most importantly, God does as He wills.

Proverbs 19:21 reads, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it’s the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Psalm 94:11 reads, “The LORD knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile.”

God is over all. Whether you believe it or not, He is. He created the heavens and earth. He created my heart as he did yours. When God created the tree in the garden, he knew Eve was going to eat of it, and then tell her husband to do the same. Nothing is hidden from God. Nothing is beyond his control. If He wants something to be and He knows that thing will bring Him more glory than it was bringing Him in the original state, will He not change it? I believe we ought to work hard. I believe working hard is what the Lord calls us to do. (Check out Proverbs 14:23, Proverbs 21:25, Ecclesiastes 9:10, and Colossians 3:23.) I just don’t think the ultimate outcome is up to us.

I can strive, I can labor, I can achieve. I can grit my teeth and grip my knuckles, but if God doesn’t want to bring my plans into fruition, if it isn’t part of his purpose, He won’t do it. I don’t have that much control.

You see, we’re all builders. Each life is a building. I know this sounds crazy, but just hang with me for a bit.

First Corinthians 3:10-15 reads, “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved – even though only as one escaping through the flames.”

Paul here is speaking of the church. He states that the church is build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ and he warns those of Corinth to be careful as to how they build upon it. Not everything in this life matters (“gold, silver, and costly stones”). He reminds them to build with things that are in line with Christ, for if not, in the end, their efforts will prove to be only dust.

I can build for my fame, but in the end it won’t matter unless that’s the way the Lord wanted to glorify himself through my life. I must build on the church of Christ with Christ-influenced and Christ-led materials. Quality over quantity.

J.P., the Single Adults Pastor at Watermark, once used the analogy of Michelangelo carving out his famous statue of David. When Michelangelo was asked how he knew which pieces to hack off and which ones to keep on the monument, he simply stated, “I just chipped away that which did not look like David.” J.P. drew it all back in by saying that this in our lives that don’t look Christ.

Right now, I’m building. So are you. I’m a member of Christ’s body, so I know that I’m building upon the proper foundation (that is, Christ). All the same, I’m building. Each activity I’m in, each relationship I influence, every conversation I have, and each thing I do are all materials I’m building with. The question is this: Are all of these materials in line with the heart of God, since that’s what truly lasts? Are these materials ‘gold and precious stones’ or ‘hay and stray’? Am I being cautious with how I build and invest?

Dolly is one special woman. She speaks of Jesus often, but I don’t know where her heart is. I may never be famous, in fact, I doubt I ever will be. Dolly is though. Again, Dolly is famous and I am not. So, Dolly must build on the foundation of Christ as a famous person and I must build on the foundation of Christ as a not-famous person. In the end, the fame and the fortune won’t matter one bit. What will matter in her life and what will matter in mine is the same. We both get one life, and, in that life, God’s glory is what matters. It’s what we both were made for.

“So you better get to living” (Dolly Parton). Good reminder.